Metro Bank pays another £2.8m to firm owned by chairman’s wife in deal that casts doubt on its claim to be different to rivals
Metro Bank has paid another £2.8m to a firm owned by its chairman’s wife in a deal that casts doubt on its claim to be different to rivals.
The cash was pocketed by architecture business InterArch, which belongs to billionaire Metro chairman Vernon Hill’s wife Shirley.
It means Metro has handed almost £24m to Mrs Hill’s New Jersey company over the past seven years.
Keeping it in the family: Vernon and Shirley Hill with Sir Duffield II
The bank says the payments are for design services at branches, and no other architect could do as good a job. But shareholders and campaigners have slammed the deal.
Luke Hildyard, of the High Pay Centre, said: ‘Doling out lucrative contracts to a director’s wife’s company doesn’t do Metro Bank, or British business, any favours.
‘Metro Bank has tried to portray itself as a bank that puts consumers first rather than the self-enrichment of bankers.’
The latest £2.8m was given to InterArch for its work during the first six months of 2018.
Hill – a flamboyant former fast-food tycoon always accompanied by his Yorkshire terrier Sir Duffield II – wants to shake up British banking. But he was forced to quit the board of US lender Commerce Bancorp in 2007 following a similar outcry over deals with relations.
Hill, who is not involved in the appointment of InterArch, receives £120,000 a year from Metro to cover trips to London from his US home so he can run the bank.
A Metro spokesman said: ‘The audit committee has strong review and benchmarking processes, conducted by authoritative independent third parties, to ensure that the terms are favourable for the bank.’